two hundred and seven words. 10

God’s promise/natural terror — two sides of the same shifting pennies.

Kvenna ráð

207 Probably the girl’s greatest sin of her youth was her abandonment of imagination in favour of reason; before that betrayal (of herself) she could observe a person the way you would step back from a statue you had just made, fall in crush with it, and kiss it in her daydreams; after that she could see the pure stone, the straight, brown track, the division between rain and sunshine that could refract and make a double bow that a Bible would call God’s promise and she would call a natural terror – the same as leaves of frost on a window pane or the lower of a nimbus; her night-dreams, however, continued to be about flying and about a maze of rooms in a lit house she should know, and she came down from them into a world where you could – and this amazed her, almost took back the…

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Nana2

‘Love in Nepal’ mixed media drawing by Amaya Engleking

There’s little that’s less inspiring than school, the place with all the solutions.

Still, street henna artist Sweety asked for nothing more than some milk for baby Pari and to send her four kids to school.

I couldn’t reply for weeks, at odds with institutionalized education and the corresponding state of the world,

its bony-limbed beggars

its middle caste class action mobsters

bursting the belt buckle.

Water and well-anointed oil do not mix;

they never share a meal.  Read More

New Refrain

Painting by Megan Triantafillou

Mass with mastitis
mother by marriage says we’ll go to see Mother Mary but I know you know better
drinking in the sacrament of breath…

…Symposium of spirits concentrate there,
a kiss to sustain the learning world when by day and night
it hardens,
angels martyred
only to meet the gathered light and song and with new refrain go right back IN
TO bodies as
shining epistles altering helices and species Read More

Rainstorm

Photography by Justin Dodson

When we sat on the chalk cliffs overlooking the Timberron basin and lightning in the indigo sky, it started to rain hard, though far from camp with one poncho between us. It threatened to wash away our ground but somehow, Read More

Open Carry


In a dream a friend carried his baby on his back and pointed a DP-12 shotgun at me, I didn’t laugh enough at one of his jokes or because that’s just what is done in these days of deconstruction.
Conflict resolution doesn’t mean what it used to.
Right to bear arms doesn’t mean what it used to.
Friendship doesn’t mean what it used to. Read More

Holy

The Medjugorje visionary saw Mary, Mother of God hovering above the couple’s marital bed years ago, on which we now all solemnly, humorlessly — the Catholic way — procession in and toss rose petals, strategically set as the climax of this strange retreat, hosted by the couple.
“And now, without further ado…”
Blessed be this holy site! Heal me from what ails me!

Miserere Domine!*

…In a nauseous wave I’m moved to clear the air and run out of the incensed house, myrrh potpourri and Advent boughs, perfected confectioneries and stained glass donation jars, into a southern December dusk where woods laugh but take my offering: Read More

Embracing Blessed Pregnancy (Shape Poem)

I am
in bloom.
Full of blood,
bubbling, full of life.
Face aglow, I am awed
by the blood vessels
flowing into womb,
thickened veins and
umbilical pulse.  I can
feel their swollen contours
as they inflect upwards beneath
the skin.  Bulbous breasts plump with
sweet amber, ~~ dripping like blackstrap
molasses. ~~ Soon the ambrosia will pour
forth as the new baby feeds,  feeding the
flowering plants, tuberose and jasmine,
clematis and columbine,  blossoming
blackberry brambles; ~~ this milky
blancmange enriching the fertile
soil of spring. ~~ Efflorescence Read More

Salt (in the Wound)

Painting by Elena Katsyura

What did you learn in school today, the bored mom asked her teenage son at the dinner table
not looking up from her phone
not noticing quiet tears falling on shuffled peas.

How to multiply polynomials, conjugate in the subjunctive, how violently sudden the last gasp of air comes to the bullet-holed classmate, how it feels to be expendable, grieving, and let down all at once. That was never on the syllabus or the glossy website. Forget being fruitful and multiplying when we don’t even know what X is. Forget wishing and hoping when we shed (others’) blood for the correct version of hypothetical. We are willing to (let someone else) die for what we are (not) willing to sacrifice. Don’t ever tell me to be bold again if this is what it looks like.  Read More

Portrait of a February Morning


I stepped outside onto the back porch to let the dog out first thing and a rush of vitality filled me as the cedar smoke of our neighbors’ chimney and the cold wet in the air stung my bare face. The mountains to the south were already enshrouded in heavy cloud and a few snow flurries met the wafts of smoke-drift. Winter! I need it. What a revival from the malaise of warm, dry January, sickly like overripe fruit in a moist and sealed container. Defying the seasons and the natural order of life cycles like the technological revolution.  Read More